Category: Brains

A Simple Idea to Help With Repetitive Anxiety

[content: a quick tip for repetitive anxiety]

In the past, I’d regularly get trapped in the exact same worry over and over.

Often, it would be health anxiety. For example, I’d experience a symptom of some kind. And I’d immediately imagine that this symptom was coming from the worst possible cause. Perhaps a pain would be in my leg, and I’d think “that’s a blood clot, travelling to my lungs to kill me”.

For the rest of the day—week? month?—I’d struggle to concentrate on anything else, constantly fighting to keep my attention from the impending doom.

After years of living through this exact cycle, I realised I wasn’t learning anything. It was just the same thing, over and over and over again.

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How to Recover After a Setback

wer glaubt dass schweigen probleme löst by Daniel Wehner, on Flickr

Original Photo © Daniel Wehner, Daniel Wehner on Flickr.
CC BY 2.0

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

This year I’ve experienced a constant stream of setbacks, of varying degrees of seriousness: minor administrative life hassle, major family tragedy, missed career opportunities, painful emotional entanglements, idiotic breakages, unexpected financial demands.

At times, it’s felt as if the universe was sending me regular doses of deliberate punishment.

Each problem on its own wouldn’t be so bad. Especially since I recognise that I’m actually pretty lucky—I have my life mostly together, along with strong coping strategies and a solid support network.

But when problems come thick and fast—and, this year, another one kept appearing before I’d had time to process the last one—it can be too much for anyone to handle. When you’re already struggling, the smallest setback can tip the scales and dump thousands of final straws onto the camel’s back*.

*with hindsight, putting all those straws on scales above a camel was an avoidable mistake

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You Probably Need to Do This One Thing More Often

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Do your attempts to be kind to yourself ever backfire?

I’ve noticed lately that my moments of self-generosity are occasionally actively unhelpful to me:

“Fine, I’ll watch another episode.”

“I’ve worked hard, I don’t need to exercise today.”

“If I eat a second dessert… then I can free up the time that I would have spent eating it later! Genius.”

None of these things are bad, of course. (In fact, I am a tremendous fan of being entertained, resting and eating sweet treats –  and I’m even happy to multitask all three, if necessary.)

However, there’s a common theme here:

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Freedom vs Security

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

Today: some thoughts about life decisions.

But First: Let’s Talk About Fourier Transforms,

[WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MATHS! (It’s optional, so skip it, if you like.)]

A few months ago, I was making a decision, and every time I thought about it, a mathematical analogy sprung to mind.

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Wasted Time Isn’t Wasted

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

We can’t control whether to spend our time, only what we spend it on.

This thought has echoed around and around in my mind ever since I read the story of Opus 40 – a sculpture park created by one man over 37 years(!).

Part of me recoils in horrified terror at the thought of spending 37 years on a single project. Sometimes, 37 minutes can feel like a lot!

But I still find this story inspirational.

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I’m Anxious – What Do I Do Now?

Confusion by QuinnDombrowski, on Flickr

Original Photo © Quinn Dombrowski, QuinnDombrowski on Flickr.
CC BY-SA 2.0

Quite often, I get asked “what should someone do after they realise they’re anxious?”

There’s no definitive answer to that question – every person and every situation is different, so it’s impossible to give one-size-fits-all advice.

But there are a few ideas which might help someone figure out the next step for them…

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When Should We Run Away From Our Problems?

I run away by Simy_Orifici, on Flickr

Original Photo © Simy_Orifici, Simy_Orifici on Flickr.
CC BY-ND 2.0

[status: pretty obvious stuff, but may be helpful to people – like me – who tend to overthink things]

Recently, somebody asked me for advice about making a big decision.

Obviously, the fact they were asking me demonstrates terrible judgement, so I told them whatever decision they THOUGHT they should make, they should probably do the opposite.

I kid, of course. But I was interested in why they were asking: Continue reading

It Might Not Matter “Why” We’re Anxious

good question by e-magic, on Flickr

Original Photo © Eric, emagic on Flickr.
CC BY-ND 2.0

At my most anxious, I spent a LOT of time asking “why”.

If only I understood the reason for my anxiety – if I could understand it, explain it – then I could solve it.

But this was just a distraction. In fact, it made things worse.

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Do You Plan, Ruminate, Worry, Poke, Prod, and Fumble? How to Stop Overanalysing Your Life

[This post was originally written for puttylike.com]

I’ve been planning to write this post for approximately seven years.

Every possible paragraph has been carefully researched. Each of my thoughts has been studied intensely by a number of focus groups so that they are perfectly formed.

(In fact, the focus groups were themselves chosen by focus groups, although it took me several months of careful focus-grouping to realise that that was the correct strategy.)

As such, I am confident that this post is the very best it could possibly be, except-

Wait.

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Sort of Fake It till you Sort of Make It

[post status: a quick & messy throwaway thought]

It’s a two-way street between our feelings and our actions. Sometimes we perform well because we’re confident, but acting confident also helps our performance.

Hence the popular advice: “Fake it till you make it!”

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